Investigating Medical Drama TV series: approaches and perspectives

deadline for submissions: 
February 28, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
University of Bologna

Call for papers - Media Mutations 14
Investigating Medical Drama TV series: approaches and perspectives

Bologna, Dipartimento delle Arti – DAMSLab, May 18th-19th, 2023

Organized by Stefania Antonioni (Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo) and Marta Rocchi (Università di Bologna).

In collaboration with the research project “Narrative Ecosystem Analysis and Development framework (NEAD framework). A systemic approach to contemporary serial product. The medical drama case”

Confirmed keynote speaker:

Irene Cambra Badii (Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya)

Media Mutations is an international conference on contemporary audiovisual media hosted by the Department of the Arts at the University of Bologna. The event has now reached its 14th edition. This year’s focus is on medical drama TV series and on different methodological approaches employed to analyze this type of audiovisual serial product.


Since its inception in 1960s, medical drama has become one of the most relevant genres on the television scene and derives its name, on one hand, from the context in which the events take place, usually the hospital; on the other, from the narrative development of medical cases, professional dynamics and sentimental relationships.

The wide diffusion and the success of this genre, almost entirely due to television, has attracted the attention not only of critics and researchers in the field of media studies, but also of providers of medical devices and more generally of medical professionals. Moreover, the recent Covid period requires further investigation from this point of view into how much this has affected the representation of medical professions in television series.

Although many of the most famous medical TV series, first and foremost E.R., are no longer airing, OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video allow the audience to continue enjoying them. Moreover, recent years have seen a global increase in serial productions of the medical genre. In this context, much research has investigated the narrative model of medical dramas and the role of the audience in their reception, also in relation to the pedagogical ability of these stories, which are considered a powerful medium from an educational point of view. Indeed, the popularization and the social impact of medical dramas are studied primarily for their influence on medical students and on the representation of healthcare delivered to the public. Medical dramas represent also relevant social themes and hence they have been analyzed from a bioethical perspective. On the same level, the representation of marginalized categories has acquired more and more importance and several medical TV series have been analyzed in gender studies considering for example the evolution of the depiction of diversity. Lastly, these products require the use of a specialized language and consequently, from a linguistic point of view, research on dubbing, medical terminology and textual analysis has also been prolific.

Drawing on these multi-disciplinary perspectives, the conference aims to promote discussion and share research results on medical drama TV series focusing on the different methods and approaches employed for their analysis.

Media Mutations 14 encourages submissions that focus on medical drama TV series, using different methodologies and perspectives such as:

  • Quantitative and qualitative content analysis (e.g. textual and narrative analysis)

  • Linguistic analysis

  • Text analysis and machine learning (e.g. topic modelling, Natural Language Processing) for:

    - dialogue analysis and character recognition

    - screenplay summarization

    - semantic video analysis

    - scene segmentation

    - emotional arc classification

  • Network analysis and visualization of audiovisual data

  • Consumption and reception analysis

  • Gender studies

  • Production and distribution strategies

  • Narrative ecosystem approach

  • Cultural Studies:

       - impact on popular culture and behaviors

       - imageries about doctors and medicine

  • Education, training and bioethics:

       - impact on medical professionals

       - ethical questions


The official language of the conference is English. Abstracts (300-500 words for 20-minute talks) should be sent to by February 28th, 2023. Please attach a short biography (maximum 150 words) and an optional selected bibliography (up to five titles) relevant to the conference theme. The conference will be in presence. Notification of acceptance will be sent by March 5th, 2023. A registration fee will be requested after notification of paper acceptance (€80 for speakers and professional attendants).

This Conference is promoted by Media Mutations Association and financially supported by the research project “Narrative Ecosystem Analysis and Development framework (NEAD framework). A systemic approach to contemporary serial product. The medical drama case” and by DAMSLab and Dipartimento delle Arti, Università di Bologna, in collaboration with Centro Dipartimentale La Soffitta.